Seeking First the Kingdom of Heaven in Recovery

When we are caught in our active addictions or unhealthy attachments, we seek short-lived fulfillment, pleasure, and temporary reprieve from the realities and suffering of life. Yet, when we are reawakened to the Lord’s crucifix and begin working our recovery, we begin to understand that suffering is a necessary part of the human experience.

In active addiction, we may have subconsciously sought connection and community if we used or drank around others. But this ultimately left us only feeling desolation and emptiness. We may have sought human approval instead of Christ’s love through our addiction, feeling shame when we ended up doing, saying, or thinking things not aligned with God’s will. We may have sought consolation from something or someone that could never fill our deep spiritual needs.

We likely were hesitant to trust God in this state because we believed we could orchestrate our lives better than He could. As a result, our ego and fear stopped us from seeking the will of God and led us to try to resolve life’s anxieties ourselves. But Jesus asks us, “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?” (Matthew 6:27). It’s a reminder that we are ultimately not in control and that a life of peace and healing means trusting in God and His merciful care for us— not the care of our own self-seeking wills. 

Christ gives us a similar insight when He tells Martha, “You are worried and upset about many things” (Luke 10:41-). The Lord indicates that, while Martha was busying herself doing many things, the most important thing is to seek the Kingdom of God above all else. It’s a similar reminder to St. Augustine’s powerful line, “Our hearts are restless until they rest in [God].” No matter how much we try to fill our lives with things other than God—especially in the form of addictions, unhealthy attachments, and sin—we will never be satisfied.

Having the motivation to seek out Christ is a grace in itself, much like having the gift of faith. In the children’s game of hide and seek, we must first open our eyes before we can start “seeking.” The same is true with the Lord. Opening our eyes means getting honest with ourselves; it means identifying how we have been powerless over our substance and/or unhealthy attachment and in what ways our lives have become unmanageable.

Next, we have to be willing to believe that God and His infinite goodness are with us—to believe that His grace always has been with us and always will be. It’s our own self-will that creates a blockage to receiving His grace. Once we are sober and free from the bondage of our addiction and/or unhealthy attachment, we can see how God has saved us from destruction in our lives and how good He really is.  

We come to see that all of our life’s experiences and trials are God’s attempts to draw us into union with Him. As opposed to a type of codependency with another person, as many in recovery have struggled with, we are called to embrace “God-dependency.” Being created in the image and likeness of God, we are only whole when we are spiritually united with and dependent on our Creator.

In recovery, we must continually seek the Kingdom of God first. When we do, everything else in our lives will be taken care of. We know that Jesus is the Great Physician and that He is in control. When we seek Him, we find order in our lives that were once filled with disorder due to our addiction and/or unhealthy attachment. 

By seeking the Kingdom of Heaven and not the world’s happiness, we find a deeper joy in our recovery journey as we strive for perfect union with God—following the plans He has laid out for us from all eternity.

Allison is sober and a self-proclaimed “cradle convert” who has received a great deal of grace after coming back to her Catholic faith. She is so grateful to have the opportunity to be a sober Catholic wife and mother and loves nothing more than being with her family. She loves daily Mass and connecting with God outside through nature.